How Healthy Are Our Reefs?

The coral cover on the reefs of Bonaire is now around 45%

Kralendijk – The coral reefs around Bonaire have suffered a lot in recent decades. Yet Bonaire’s reefs are still considered one of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean.

Many scientists have done research into the quality of our underwater world. Because this ecosystem is complicated and the studies often concern special subjects, it is difficult to get a comprehensive picture. The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has summarized all studies in an informative English-language article in the BioNews newsletter. Translations of this article in Papiamentu and Dutch have now been published on the website

The coral cover on the reefs of Bonaire has always been high. The period of coral bleaching in 2010 caused about ten percent of the coral to die. Research shows that the reefs have recovered afterwards. The coral cover is now around 45%. Because there are major differences between the coral formations along the coast, it is difficult to draw conclusions regarding the health of the entire reef.

Role of the Parrot Fish

The large amount of parrot fish has contributed to the recovery of coral reefs after the bleaching event of 2010. Parrot fish are algae eaters and are therefore protected. They ensure that corals are not overgrown by algae and have room to relocate. However, it is worrying that cyanobacterial mats on the deeper seabed have increased enormously in a short time.

Although the reefs are still in reasonably healthy condition, they are still under threat because they are under pressure. The development on the coast has increased enormously due to the influx of visitors and new residents. House construction right on the waterfront and even further inland causes mudslides to the sea in rain. Waste water from wells and leaking septic tanks also finds its way to the sea. Population growth and the growing tourist industry are causing more pollution. This has a direct effect on the health of the environment of the seabed. In the DCNA article you can read the findings of scientific research in recent years in more detail.

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